When I was fifteen years old, a man named Jim came into my life and back into my mom’s life. Jim and my Dad were in the U.S.A.F. stationed in Germany where my mom is from and they both fell in love with her. She married my Dad first. Then, years later, she married Jim. My life was very unstable after she divorced my Dad. He moved away and my mom was a mess. She would send me to live with relatives as I mentioned in my last blog.
One day my mom sent me off with Jim (who I had just met). There I was, on a five-hour drive with this stranger. Thankfully, we got along great, he let me drive, he talked with me, not at me. I liked him. Before too long he moved us to SoCal and we were off to Vegas to get married. I was their witness. We were rescued from the poverty life, yay, no more food stamps! (It was so embarrassing when mom would send me to the store with them. It made me feel worthless).
Jim was the president of the company he ran. He was very smart and kind, he always put others first. He had a huge heart for people. He always helped any way he could. His employees were always well taken care of, including their families. He didn’t like California much, he was from Chicago and lived in Atlanta for many years. He wore t-shirts, flannels, and wrangler jeans. He was a simple steak, potatoes, and Bud-light man. We didn’t always agree, but he was always there for me.
Once when I was really sick with 105 degree fever he was there to stick me in a cold bath. Another time, he rushed me to ER when I split the side of my head open. He helped me when I came home with a broken nose from an abusive boyfriend. He was my hero! He taught me how to drive my first stick shift. (I miss him bringing that up every holiday!) He taught me how to be a hard worker. He would tell me that no matter what the answer is, don’t be afraid to ask! He taught me integrity, honesty, and to always do what is right. He made me feel like I truly mattered. He made me feel loved and accepted.
Tragedy hit our family when his son died in a motorcycle accident at the age of twenty. I watched that hero of mine hurt, grief-stricken, and angry. A part of him died in his son’s death. Without much time to rebound from this incident, my mom suffered a massive stroke and nearly died the following year. Jim pulled himself together and was amazing as he altered from a husband to a caretaker.
John and I got married and my father-daughter-dance song for Jim was, “The Wind Beneath my Wings” (he definitely was that for me). When we had our first son Austin, I saw Jim’s heart start to soften again, he was there to experience new life. We were all very close; we only lived twenty minutes away. We spent every holiday and major event together. Just for fun, we would have barbecues and pool parties where we would play pool and darts. He adored our boys and always told me how proud he was.
Then tragedy came again. On May 17, 2010, I received a dreadful phone call, paramedics were trying to resuscitate Jim. I grabbed my family and we drove to their house. I was screaming and crying out to God to save him, begging Him to let Jim live. There are no words to describe how I felt on the drive over. I just kept thinking, “How could this happen?” He was healthy, he swam laps and played basketball, we just saw him on Mother’s Day a week prior, he was fine. Our lives were drastically changed in an instant, as the paramedics were unable to resuscitate him and we were hit with the reality of his death.
My son Austin played Amazing Grace on his trumpet at the funeral. He was the last to leave at the viewing; I’ve never seen my son cry so hard and so long (heartbreaking)! So many people came and spoke highly of Jim. It seemed he was a hero to many people. He was admired and loved by so many! I miss him so much!
A year before he passed, I heard our song and the Holy Spirit told me, “Write him a letter to tell him how grateful you are for all he has done in your life.” I did and emailed it to him and he was in tears. I’m so grateful I listened to the Lord that day. I was able to share with my hero the impact he made in my life! The wind beneath my wings! I thank God for the time we did have with such an amazing person!
Do you have a hero in your life? Someone you look up to and admire? Someone you need to thank? Write them a letter, email or text. Let them know the impact they have had on your life. You’ll be so very glad you did.